I love to travel with my wife Catherine. We’ve been fortunate to travel far and wide over the years. When visiting India, I was instantly inspired by the people, the mood, the colours, and all the exciting things on offer. On one trip to Jaipur Rajasthan, I came across a back alley where a guy was selling old Indian furniture and he offered to take me to his warehouse to show me more. I handpicked many items I loved, and they arrived with me in London sometime later via a shipping container. From this, I furnished three of my West London salons, plus put some pieces in my own house in London and Sussex. I’m all about the curation of individual pieces.
I opened the first Hari’s salon on Brompton Road in 1976. At the time, my hobby was going to auctions and old antique shops. I heard about an auction in Nottingham—a church that was closing—and I just had to go. Before I got there an American guy came in and bought the whole church. I went a little crazy at the vicar, but he had a solution: his untouched vestiary. I took one look and bought the whole thing. In the salon, the reception desk was a pulpit, our pricelist was a hymn board, and there was a Victorian toilet with a wooden seat that featured beautiful patterns and designs. So, our first salon was a unique take on Victorian Gothic. The floor had old flagstones from Italy. My obsessions have continued to change over the years and manifest themselves in how I design the salons.
South Beach Miami Art Deco
I had a moment where I was obsessed with Art Deco furniture and started collecting it. I was in South Beach Miami when the love affair started. And my second salon opened in 1983 displayed some of my collected pieces. I found a 1920s Milner’s shop in South London that had just closed, so I bought its contents. We photographed the shop and tried to replicate it to a tee.
Venice and its food are passions of mine. It’s there that I discovered amazing lighting and the opulence of Murano chandeliers—which you’ll see across Hari’s salons. We brought them over and made a feature of them. What I love doing is mixing different designs and cultures together, it’s eclectic and an artform really. It’s very difficult to mix things up without it looking like a dog’s dinner! So, for example, when we did our South Kensington salon in 2019 we mixed Indian furniture with Murano Chandeliers and Corten metal. They’re complete opposites but somehow it just works.
I randomly came across a designer, Walter, a Belgian guy that used to do crazy designs. He started designing the bespoke clocks in all the salons. The idea is that I really hate salons or restaurants that are all the same or have no character. I am inspired by the aesthetic and visual element of things and I think it’s important to make the creative environment of the salons inspiring. I’m a detail person and so are so many of my talented staff. While the salons’ aesthetic and business continues to evolve, I like to think my personality remains present always and our values remain timeless.